least most wonderful time of year — everyone’s oscillating between battling bone-chilling temperatures and uncomfortable post-Tube hot flushes, and colds whip around offices. But on the upside, with winter comes broth season — so come in from the cold and embrace restorative chicken soups, stuffed pastas bobbing in rich stock, and bubbling hot pots.
12 London Broths Worth a Slurp
Bubbling hot pots, slippery udon noodles, elegant agnolotti in brodo, and more
Laksa at Sambal Shiok Laksa Bar
It’s pretty hard to go wrong with any of the laksas at Sambal Shiok in Holloway. These are hangover-soothing, cold-curing, mood-boosting bowls of shrimpy, savoury, burnt orange soup and thick, slippery noodles, with a huge amount of care and attention to detail going into each bowl. Add poached chicken or prawns, or go vegan with a shrimp-free broth that packs just as much as an umami punch.
Tonkotsu ramen at Tonkotsu East
Ramen mini-chain Tonkotsu has locations around London (and one in Birmingham), but head to the Haggerston outpost, where the noodle-making machine whirs away in the background. All the noodle soups are well balanced here, and none more so than their signature tonkotsu ramen. Go hungry: the portions of deeply flavoursome stock with a mass of thin noodles, thick bamboo shoots and tender pork belly slices are extremely generous. The gooey yolk from half a seasoned egg only enriches the broth further.
Agnolotti in brodo at Brawn
Whether it’s at lunch, when the dining room is bright and strewn with light, or dinner, when it’s all all moody and candlelit, make sure to order a bowl of Brawn’s agnolotti in brodo. The rich egg-yolk pasta parcels are stuffed before every service with chicken, prosciutto and parmesan, and the aromatic broth in which the agnolotti swims has been simmering beef shin, fowl, and ham.
Soup of the day at Leila's Shop
The soups at charming Leila’s sum up what the Shoreditch café is all about — letting quality seasonal ingredients shine in comforting dishes. There’ll usually be a soup on the menu but it’ll change with what’s good. Diners might find pearl barley with squash and greens, generously drizzled with olive oil, or a light but richly flavoured beef broth with rice and cabbage. A basket of bread and enamelware dish of butter on the side is essential.
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Chongqing noodles at Xi'an Biang Biang Noodles
Often overlooked in favour of the belt-like namesake biang biang noodles, the chongqing noodles here are a menu gem. Thinner hand-pulled noodles sit in a rich, numbing stock with chickpeas and greens. Fashion a napkin bib and lean in for a dish that’ll simultaneously clear the sinuses and warm the cockles.
Prawn tempura atsu-atsu at Koya Soho
At Koya, thick udon noodles with just the right amount of chewiness twist and turn in an earthy, clear broth. There’s a variety of elegant dishes, served cold and hot, but the prawn tempura atsu-atsu (hot udon in hot broth) is one for cold nights. The hefty prawn sits jauntily, half in and half out of the soup, covered in a delicate smattering of crispy batter that slowly melts into the stock.
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Anolini in brodo at Cafe Murano Covent Garden
Gloriously beige, the anolini in brodo at Angela Hartnett’s Cafe Murano is simply exquisite. Delicate, plump pasta parcels filled with beef and veal bob in a heady, ever so slightly cloudy chicken broth that would be heaven by the mug full. Here, a light showering of parmesan makes it a rich, satisfying primi. A winter special, it’ll be on the menu at the restaurant group’s new Bermondsey Street restaurant (slated to open mid-November) and there are rumours it’ll make an appearance at the other outposts in St. James and Covent Garden too.
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Xiaolongbao at Dumplings' Legend
The clue’s in the name about what to order here — and xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) are the restaurant’s speciality. A thin, silken dough forms a parcel for steaming broth and a variety of meat, seafood and vegetable fillings. Just make sure not to pop them and waste all that rich stock.
Xiaolongbao at Din Tai Fung
The minced pork xiaolongbao are Dai Tin Fung’s signature dish at its restaurants the world over — and for good reason. Within the thin, translucent dough of the delicate steamed soup dumplings is a seriously savoury broth and well-seasoned pork. The restaurant has also introduced a vegan xiaolongbao which deserves a shout-out. While they don’t quite capture the same umami hit as the meat dumplings, the mushrooms with a small hint of truffle are just as comforting.
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Mulligatawny soup at Veeraswamy
The iconic Indian restaurant perched above Regent Street has been serving its standout soup since it opened in 1926. The Anglo-Indian mulligatawny soup, a spiced thin broth with lentils, is made extra special here and served tableside. It’s a fragrant, hearty bowlful that’s kept winter chills at bay for more than 90 years.
Pho tai chin at Cafe East
The corner of a Surrey Quays retail park, beyond a Pizza Hut, Gala Bingo and a bowling alley, might not be the obvious home of some of London’s best pho. But in the no-frills dining room of Cafe East, bowls of noodle-filled soup can be found on every table. Try the phò tai chín: flat rice noodles lurk in the depths of a light broth, topped with both rare and cooked-through slivers of beef. Pile on herbs, beansprouts and sliced chilli.
Hot pot at Snackistan, Persepolis
The hot pot might change daily at Snackistan, the charming café at Persian store Persepolis, but it’ll always be restorative. There could be borlotti and barley or white beans with fennel, rosemary and lavender simmering away. The broth is always served with rice, yogurt and salad.